Craig polls close with high turnout | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig polls close with high turnout

Collin Smith

Election judges Katie Ronis, Moffat County High School senior, and Paige Frank, a junior, wait to hand out sample ballots to incoming voters Tuesday at Centennial Mall. Lines to the to vote stretched around the entrance before the polls opened at 7 a.m.

A brief and tired applause went up when polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Mall.

County officials and other election workers had been at the vote center since before polls opened at 7 a.m., and although they were glad to be a part of America’s democratic process, they were a little tired, too.

Praise for Moffat County’s electorate came freely and often.

As of 5:45 p.m., with more than an hour to go before polls closed, a total of 1,593 residents came to Centennial Mall to cast their votes for the multitude of political races, judgeships and ballot questions presented to Coloradans in the 2008 general election.

“I’m so proud of our citizens,” said Jennifer Riley, election judge supervisor for the Craig vote center. “I think sometimes you live in a smaller county, population-wise, and you can think it doesn’t matter if you vote. I think, this year, people feel strongly about their vote, though.”

The day-long trend of seeing 150 voters each hour continued through the afternoon and up until 6 p.m. During the last hour, however, the flood thinned to a trickle, and once 40-person-strong lines evaporated.

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At the end of the day, 1,673 county residents came to the mall to vote in the 2008 election, a little more than one-quarter of local active voters.

Amazingly enough, election officials said, the possibly record voter turnout did not come with record problems.

Election judges set up electronic counting machines at Centennial Mall and asked every voter using a paper ballot to run their vote before they left. This way, if there was a mistake on the ballot, voters were given the option to recreate their own ballot before they left.

There were a fair number of “over voted” ballots, election judge Neil McCandless said, which is where a person marks outside set boxes.

“Some people voted for four presidents,” he said.

Another issue may be the increasing number of provisional ballots.

Betsy Peck, 32-year veteran of Moffat County elections, said she gave out 49 provisional ballots today for a variety of reasons.

“In fact, I ran out and had to call in for some more,” she said.

Of those, about five people said they never received the mail-in ballot they requested, and others either didn’t have photo identification or were not on voter registration lists.

Peck said those who voted on provisional ballots can call the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in 10 days to find out if their ballot counted.

All in all, however, officials were pleasantly surprised with the display of civic pride in the local community.

Elaine Sullivan, County clerk and recorder, said she was especially taken aback by the hard work from election staff members, who included about 30 election judges culled from the community.

“Without their hard work all day long, this would have been a lot different,” Sullivan said.